It almost was like old times at the CU Events Center Thursday night.
In this case, old times refers to the first half of coach Tad Boyle’s 10-year tenure at Colorado, yet the 74-65 victory against No. 4 Oregon was significant not only for the way the Buffaloes picked up a key victory to start Pac-12 Conference play, but for the atmosphere created within the sold-out CU Events Center.
Thursday’s attendance of 10,770 was the first crowd of 10,000 for the Buffs since the final two home games of the 2015-16 season, when CU drew 11,309 against Arizona on Feb. 24, 2016 and another 10,325 four days later against Arizona State.
Thursday’s crowd far surpassed the largest home crowds from each of the past seasons — 9,374 against Oregon in 2016-17, 8,787 against Washington in 2017-18, and 9,379 against USC last year.
With eight home games remaining and the Buffs serving notice on Thursday night they have every intention on following through on their goal of competing for the Pac-12 title, the 2020 could signal a return to the raucous crowds that were on hand for Buffs games far more frequently during the early portion of Boyle’s tenure.
Between the 2011-12 season and the 2014-15 season, CU enjoyed at least four crowds of at least 10,000 each year. During the 2012-13 season the Events Center hosted 12 games with at least 10,000 fans, and even topped that total for matchups against foes like Hartford and Northern Arizona.
“I would just say that anybody that wasn’t at the game tonight, you missed a heck of a game,” Boyle said. “This Colorado basketball team is worthy of eight more games like the Events Center was tonight in terms of (being) packed, enthusiastic. Our crowd helped us win this game and I thank them for that. I just would beg them to come back Sunday at 4 o’clock. We’re playing a very good Oregon State team then.”
The eight assists from point guard McKinley Wright IV moved the junior point guard into a three-way tie with Donnie Boyce and Nate Tomlinson for sixth all-time at CU with 405 career assists. With 21 points, Wright increased his career total to 1,097, moving past Larry Vaculik for 29th all-time. Next up for Wright on the scoring list are Jim Davis (1,110) and Spencer Dinwiddie (1,115).
Junior forward Tyler Bey grabbed 14 rebounds to increase his career total to 656. He moved past Donnie Boyce and Jim Creighton into 18th-place on CU’s all-time list. Bey also became the 11th CU player to record 25 double-doubles in his career.
CU announced it will host its annual basketball alumni weekend next week in conjunction with the Jan. 12 home date against Utah.
The Buffs will honor alums from the Sox Walseth era of CU hoops and, against the Utes, the Buffs will wear throwback jerseys honoring the 1968-69 Big Eight Conference championship team. A limited number of reserved bench seats are available for $19.68 at CUBuffs.com via the promo code “THROWBACK.”
Oregon’s Shakur Juiston played after missing the previous five games due to a leg injury. He went 4-for-5 with eight points and four rebounds in 22 minutes…CU sophomore Eli Parquet did not play for the first time this season…The Buffs had lost their previous four Pac-12 openers, with all of those results occurring on the road…Thursday’s win was the 19th victory against a ranked foe in Boyle’s 10 seasons.